The whey protein is the most widely used protein in body building regardless of the objective of the athlete. All the same, can this protein be used in other sports and not just in strength sports?
Use of whey proteins in sport
Whey is considered a "fast protein" since it is assimilated by the body within 10–20 minutes of being ingested, compared with casein which is considered a "slow protein" (assimilated 8 hours after ingestion). This rate of assimilation results in a spike in the level of amino acids in the blood—ideal for increasing the speed of protein synthesis. What this means is that it helps prevent muscle deterioration and boosts muscular repair (muscle catabolism and anabolism). Whey is therefore a good choice for adding muscle mass and managing good muscle recovery.
For which sports is whey recommended?
Muscular protein synthesis increases dramatically after endurance and resistance training and continues for four hours after the activity has stopped (the "metabolic window"). Since all exercise results in muscular microlesions, and the primary job of proteins is to provide amino acids for tissue synthesis, it is recommended that rapidly assimilated proteins (whey) are taken during the recovery stage.
As explained above, whey protein is a rapidly assimilated protein; this makes it particularly helpful during the recovery phase, regardless of the physical activity. Using endurance sports as an example, running is known to be a sport that is very hard on the muscles and joints.
The effects of whey proteins
Whey is classified as a rapid-release protein. This conclusion was provided by a study carried out by Boirie (1997). This study demonstrates that whey increases the protein synthesis speed by 68%. This does not mean that muscle anabolism rises by 68%. The focus is on anabolism in general and muscle anabolism is but just one part.
Owing to its slower digestion, the casein only has a modest effect on anabolism (31%). However, casein prevents degradation of proteins by 34%. The action of the whey is negligible in this respect. The whey is described as an "anabolic" protein whereas casein is defined as an "anti-catabolic" protein.
Can whey proteins be used for other purposes other than sport?
Some people resort to diets rich in proteins to loose weight. The purpose of these diets is to eliminate fat mass without destroying muscle. The principle of these types of diets is to limit starch and fat mass, by giving preference to maximum amount of proteins. Meals therefore consist mainly of proteins and are completed with protein powders. Whey represents an excellent quality protein, perfectly suited to these types of diets.
It must be remembered that these diets are difficult to sustain as they are extremely restrictive; they must be supported by continual medical follow-ups. They were devised in American hospitals in the 60s and were only offered to obese persons or persons who needed to loose weight rapidly in order to undergo surgery.